Newark mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker gave a stirring address to tens of thousands on the National Mall Saturday at the rally marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Booker’s five-minute speech focused on what he called his generation’s responsibility to carry on the commitment to justice and equality embodied by Dr. Martin Luther King and his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.
“Please allow me to speak to those like myself who were not even alive when the March on Washington happened,” he began.
“My father when I was growing up said it very simply,” Booker said. “He used to look at me and say, ‘Boy, don’t you dare walk around here like you hit a triple, ‘cause you were born on third base. You are enjoying freedoms, opportunity, technology, things that were given to you bought by the struggles and the sacrifices and the work of those who came before. Don’t you forget where you come from.”
“‘You drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty and opportunity you did not dig,’” Booker continued.
Booker cited stagnating wages, increasing child poverty, gun violence, and LGBT discrimination as proof his generation “cannot afford to sit back consuming all our blessings, getting dumb, fat, and happy, thinking that we have achieved freedom,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, the dream still demands, the moral conscious of our country still calls us, that hope still needs heroes.”
“We still have work to do,” he said.
Booker’s trip to the capital comes just two months before he’ll likely make a permanent move to Washington. The New Jersey special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg will take place on Oct. 16, and Booker is leading his Republican opponent, former mayor Steve Lonegan, by about 20 points in the polls.